In the past, depending on the case and availability of staff to respond, a patient has waited for up to an hour for the transport process to start.
“I want to say we’re down to 10 to 15 minutes,” said David May, a registered nurse and member of AirMed Hawaii’s new Rapid Response Team.
AirMed Hawaii created a team of registered nurses and paramedics, one of whom responds to a patient’s bedside within minutes of a request for transfer to a medical facility on another island.
Patients may require transfer for specialized medical services available only at other hospitals in Hawaii or on the Mainland once they have been stabilized.
The Rapid Response Team member assists the hospital nurse with all necessary paperwork, obtaining the report and “packaging” the patient for flight. The Rapid Response member then accompanies the patient in the ground ambulance to the flight line at Kahului Airport.
“This new team really helps with moving the patient as quickly as possible, keeping comfort in mind,” May explained.
No other air ambulance company in the state offers a Rapid Response Team, according to AirMed officials.
Maui’s ground ambulance service, American Medical Response, continues to play a pivotal role in the medevac transfer by transporting the patient to the airport where, an AirMed Hawaii aircraft takes over.
The intent of the Rapid Response Team is to have all the patient preparation coordinated prior to the ground ambulance crew’s arrival at the patient’s bedside. Often times this could mean changing multiple IV medications, putting on IV pumps or setting other necessary medical equipment in place for the transport of the patient.
“Any program that minimizes ambulance crews’ time on a case equates to a faster transfer of a patient to a higher level of care as well as quicker availability for the next emergency or transfer ambulance need,” said Curt S. Morimoto, operations manager of American Medical Response in Maui County. The Rapid Response Team accomplishes this, Morimoto said.
Both he and Maui Memorial emergency room nurse Jill Riggs confirmed that medevac patients have been moving faster out of the hospital than ever before.
“I would definitely say that,” Morimoto said. “The RRT does minimize the time it takes to get the patient out of the hospital.”
“It’s definitely been a progression,” Riggs said. She said she welcomes and appreciates the help of the Rapid Response Team to take over the duties of emergency room nurses, who also want to move on and care for other patients.
“The Rapid Response Team helps us streamline the whole process. They come in so fast and they’re knowledgeable and responsible. You know they’re going to take care of the patient,” Riggs said.
May said the Rapid Response Team has also taken over the responsibility of providing patient information to the flight crews, who in the past have lost time on the ground talking to hospital staff by radio or telephone about a patient’s condition and care needs.
“It’s just better now because we’re doing that in person and we can give a concise report in five minutes,” he said.
AirMed’s Rapid Response Team consists of approximately 10 nurses and paramedics, who share on-call shifts of 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. The service was initiated last October, with AirMed detailing the program recently after establishing its benefits.
AirMed describes itself as Hawaii’s only accredited air ambulance service, providing medical transportation between the islands, to the Mainland and throughout the world on a 24/7 basis.
It is the only service of its kind in Hawaii that flies with two pilots on every mission, and serves as the exclusive air transport for pediatric and neonatal teams from Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children.
AirMed Hawaii’s parent company is AirMed International, a U.S. Department of Defense-approved carrier and winner of the title “Air Ambulance Provider of the Year” by the International Travel Insurance Journal.
• Claudine San Nicolas can be reached at claudine@mauinews .com.
AirMed Hawaii pilot Jim Covington (left) greets flight registered nurse David May recently at Kahului Airport while waiting for a patient to be transferred to the aircraft from Maui Memorial Medical Center. Also on the scene (from right): flight registered nurse Jon Kane, pilot Kent Gammel and flight paramedic Kelly Garringer — all members of the Rapid Response Team that speeds patient transfers among the islands.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo